The Rolling Stones haven't even announced a 50th anniversary tour for this year, but already they've incited the wrath of some fans.
Calling themselves as the Rolling Stones Liberation Front, some of them have got together to demand changes to the way the band tour. And if these demands aren't met, they're threatening non-violent, disruptive action to force home their campaign.
So what is it they want? Here are their six demands in full:
1) WE WANT SMALLER VENUES We believe the time has passed for gargantuan mega-arena spectaculars; hardly anything good comes from these soulless shows. Scale it back. Throw away the lights, the inflatables, the fireworks and the catwalks. Keep it simple. Mick Jagger no longer needs to prove himself a physically fit older gentleman, we get it. The introduction of the considerably smaller B-stage set up in the middle of the venue at the end of 1994's Voodoo Lounge Tour was a perfect step toward this philosophy. Ask any concert goer and they'll tell you the best part of the last fifteen years of Rolling Stones shows has always been that time they play the three or four songs on the smaller stage. How much more of a hint do they need? We demand an alternative: establish a residency in theaters for up to seven days in every city on the perspective tour. You cannot tell us, in 2012, an organization as big and experienced as The Rolling Stones cannot pull off this task. Their fan is a dedicated one, almost to a fault and the band should not worry about loyalty, the people will come to them, it is all but assured. Leave your 400 tons of steel at home. Two guitars, bass, drums and a vocal mike, that's it; the magic is in the music not in the lights. Cut the fat, less is more.
2) WE WANT LOWER TICKET PRICES We believe it is unacceptable to charge up to $350 for a single ticket. The Rolling Stones do not need the money, but we need our money. We believe a band needing to charge $85 $100 for upper balcony seats is a band no longer in touch with their fan base. We demand the ticket price for the next tour to be no more than $30 and without any and all service charges. The people have been burned many times before by useless and expensive incentives such as "fan club seats" and pre-sale tickets which only lead us to frustration and bad sightlines; experience has taught us there are no special seats for the proletariat no matter how many hoops we jump through. If you are within the first twenty rows on the main floor, a Rolling Stones show is an unparalleled experience. If you are anywhere behind row 30, the show is a drag, an expensive drag.
Like it or not, this has become a worker's struggle; it's the masses who fill a majority of the seats at The Rolling Stones concerts. Today it is only the bourgeoisie who can afford (or are given tickets to) seats near the front; fat cats, music critics and their sloppy, clueless friends who have only a passing interest in the band. We've been watching them for years from our positions high above; we watch with furrowed brows through binoculars as they stare up at the stage, in the glare of the lights, unmoving and jaded. This is an outrage. We demand the Rolling Stones to go back to regular, first come/first serve ticket sales, preferably at physical ticket outlets and not via the Internet. No promos, no guest lists.
3) WE WANT A SET LIST OVERHAUL We believe with an immense back catalogue of songs to choose from, there is no reason why The Rolling Stones need to stick to roughly the same 30 songs for every tour; we refuse to sit through another airing of the played-out hits. Satellite radio has established the popularity of what is known in the industry as "deep cuts", songs that were not necessarily "hits" in the usual sense of the word, but are fan favourites, none the less. The practice of playing uncommon songs was introduced by and large for the 1989 Steel Wheels Tour and we, the paying customers, were delighted. However, after twenty three years, further steps need to be taken. Therefore, we demand the following songs not to be played on the next tour: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Brown Sugar", "Honky Tonk Women", "Start Me Up", "Sympathy For The Devil". Investigate your own catalogue; do not take us for granted.
4) WE WANT THE ELIMINATION OF THE HORN SECTION AND BACK-UP SINGERS We believe The Rolling Stones have drifted too far from the true and basic rock n roll aesthetic. It's time to bring it back; back at least to the hugely successful 1978 Some Girls Tour. With all due respect to the honourable Bobby Keys, we believe the horn arrangements are needless and get in the way. We demand the removal of the brass section for the upcoming tour. Mr. Keys should only be allowed to perform on any songs from albums with release dates between the years 1970 1973. Additionally, with all due respect to the honourable Lisa Fischer, Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin, the use of back-ups singers is now irrelevant and we demand their removal for the next tour.
5) WE WANT THE EXPULSION OF ALL OPENING ACTS We believe The Rolling Stones have stopped challenging themselves. There was a time when they would bring an opening band talented enough to challenge the Stones themselves who, in turn, would have to step it up even further when it was time for them to take the stage. We ask you: how challenging can it be to follow Third Eye Blind? How challenging can it be to follow Johnny Lang or the goddamn Spin Doctors? Forcing an audience who just paid a lot of money to sit through such tripe is a rip-off as much as it is an insult. While there are in fact hard working bands today who could give The Rolling Stones a run for their money, they never seem to appear on the bill. Additionally, even if those bands did open the show, most of those in attendance won't have the patience for them. Therefore, we demand The Rolling Stones forgo the use of opening acts on this last tour. Cut the fat, less is more.
6) WE WANT ALL FANS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES We believe the fault also lies with fans willing to do the bidding of their favourite band, no matter the cost. How many suckers does it take to fill an auditorium? Ask The Rolling Stones. We are all suckers, victims of their apparent cynicism and money hungry ways. We urge all self-respecting Rolling Stones fans to heed our warnings and join our ranks. Don't be taken for granted. We've bought the albums, we've bought the cassettes, we've bought the CDs, we've bought the DVDs, we've bought the Blu-rays, we've bought the re-masters, we've bought the elaborate re-issues, we've bought tickets to the movies, we've bought tickets to the concerts and we've bought anything with the tongue logo on it. We've bought it all, hook, line and sinker. Now it's time The Rolling Stones give back or we will push back. Why give them more of our money and then settle for the usual? We won't.
In time-honoured Monty Python's Life Of Brian" fashion, we await the arrival of the Popular Front For The Liberation Of The Rolling Stones...
Thanks for the report to ClassicRockMagazine.com.